July 16, 1999 Issue number 226
Uzi Landau - IDF Not Seriously Addressing Threats
'The Oslo agreements changed the underlying security data that served as the basis for the security concept for many years. We expected the security apparatus to provide solutions to the new reality created in the territories with the establishment of the Palestinian Authority (PA), where at close proximity to Israel's densely populated centers in Jerusalem, Raanana, Kfar Sava, Netanya and other cities, and proximity to IDF installations and main transportation arteries, the PA functions, having under it command forces equivalent to three light infantry battalions. These are threats that Israel has never faced before. A difficult problem has been created, that in contrast to the past, all concepts have shattered of having available sufficient warning times of 24 or 48 hours in order to prepare to face an attack, if the negotiations and the agreements should break down. Over a year ago a scenario of a massive coordinated terror attack from the PA territories against tens of sensitive points in Israel was presented to me. To this day the security apparatus has not presented to us any response to this scenario that was developed by a groups of professors, strategic analysts and senior army officers from the entire political spectrum.' - Likud MK Uzi Landau
Barak Warns of Terrorism
Prime Minister Ehud Barak, in conversations with senior IDF and other security officials, has instructed all Israeli security agencies to remain alert and to increase coordination with the Palestinians -- in order to be prepared for the possibility of an attack by terrorists. The Prime Minister said that the momentum in the peace process may encourage extremist organizations such as Hamas and Hizballah to carry out terrorist attacks. In his talks with Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, the Prime Minister noted that terrorism is liable to bring the peace process to a halt. (Prime Minister's Media Adviser July 13)
Barak Keeps All Cards Close to Chest
Prime Minister Ehud Barak met with Golan and Yesha leaders Monday night. The former warned him that a "severe split in the nation" would result if Golan communities are uprooted. Barak did not go into detail regarding his future plans for the area. In the meeting with Yesha leaders, the two sides agreed not to surprise each other with various sudden moves. Barak hinted again that he will likely have to uproot some communities, and that he will implement the Wye Agreement. Arutz-7 correspondent Haggai Huberman reports that, contrary to the impression conveyed by both the Israeli and international press, the Barak-Arafat meeting on Sunday has not made a major improvement in the relations between the two sides. "The atmosphere at the meeting was slightly better than before," Huberman said, "but the Palestinians are still very wary of Barak's plans. Barak told Arafat several times on Sunday that he wants to implement the Wye withdrawals in combination with the final status talks, but the Palestinians insist that full implementation of Wye must precede any such talks... Barak forced Arafat to agree to two months' more of recess before formal contacts begin. Arafat was very unhappy with this, but had no real choice. The Palestinians fear that Barak plans to repeat Netanyahu's technique of 'buying time,' which is an especially sensitive issue for the Palestinians. They know that U.S. President Clinton, who has been the friendliest President to Arafat ever, has only one year left in office." All in all, the Palestinians have significantly lowered their expectations, Huberman added. With all of the problems entailed in final status talks, they don't expect to reach more than an agreement of principles by the time Barak leaves office, leaving the actual implementation of such principles for many years down the line." (Arutz 7 July 13)
New Yesha Council Chairman Calls for Population Drive
The new chairman of the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria, Benny Kashriel, said Tuesday that only "massive populating" efforts in the Yesha communities will prevent their uprooting under future diplomatic agreements. He called upon the communities to disband their "absorption committees," and to accept anyone who wishes to join. Kashriel denied his commonly-perceived image as a "moderate," and said that he is in favor of "Greater Eretz Yisrael, and the continued strengthening of the Yesha enterprise." He said, "I will not accept the removal of even one house in Yesha. On the other hand, we must recognize that the Oslo and Wye agreements exist, and we must work within the limitations they place upon us." (Arutz 7 July 13)
Yisrael B'Aiyah Miffed at Labor
The Yisrael B'Aliyah Knesset faction convened Tuesday to discuss its short-term political strategy. Party head Natan Sharansky accused One Israel of causing his party's split, wherein two of its six MKs left and are considering joining another coalition faction. The four remaining MKs did not vote with the government on Monday's no-confidence motion, prompting an angry reaction from Prime Minister Barak. One Israel has apparently offered Yisrael B'Aliyah the chairmanship of the Knesset Immigration Absorption Committee, as well as a place on the Knesset Finance Committee. (Arutz 7 July 13)
Killer of Rabbi Ra'anan Found Guilty
The Military Court in Bet El Wednesday found Palestinian Arab terrorist Mahmoud Sarsur guilty of the murder of Rabbi Shlomo Ra'anan in Hevron, and of the wounding of several dozen Israelis in two other terrorist attacks. Sentencing will be on July 29. Family members of Rabbi Ra'anan, together with many of those wounded by Sarsur, asked Prime Minister Barak yesterday to guarantee that the killer would never be released in the framework of any prisoner release with the Palestinians. (Sarsur's brother, the murderer of Hevron yeshiva student Aharon Gross almost 20 years ago, was released several years afterwards by Israel in a prisoner exchange, and now serves as a tour guide in Hevron. Hevron residents say that he proudly points out to his tourists the place where he murdered Gross.) It was revealed that during the six weeks between the murder of Rabbi Ra'anan and the Yom Kippur attack, Mahmoud Sarsur often walked into Hevron with two grenades in his pocket, looking for an appropriate target. (Arutz 7 July 14)
Israelis Don't Want Large Cabinet
By an almost 2.5-to-1 margin, the Israeli public is against the expansion of the government from 18 to 24 ministers. A survey carried out by the Geocartographic Institute shows that 57% are against, while only 24% are in favor. The Movement for Quality in Government has submitted the findings to the Knesset and the ministers, in an effort to prevent the bill from being passed on its second and third readings. (Arutz 7 July 14)
Knesset Security Committee Member Praised Hizbullah
MK Hashem Mahmeed (United Arab List) will represent the Israeli-Arab sector on the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee - the first time that an Arab has been included in the committee. During the intifada, Mahmeed called upon Arabs "not to suffice with stones" against Israeli soldiers. In February of this year, Mahmeed praised the Lebanese Hizbullah terrorist organization as a "national liberation movement of the first order." The Likud will submit a no-confidence motion against the government because of the decision, and Likud MK Gideon Ezra, a former Deputy Head of the General Security Service, said that he would not sit on the committee with an Arab Knesset Member. (Arutz 7 July 14)
Israel's critical aid last week in rescuing survivors and searching for others under the ruins of a collapsed building in Palestinian-controlled Ramallah never happened - if the Palestinian media are to be believed. Palestinian Television was careful to show only Palestinian uniforms in its coverage of the incident, and Voice of Palestine Radio did not mention the identity of the rescue forces. In reporting on the evacuation of the injured to Jerusalem's Hadassah Hospital, Voice of Palestine said that they were taken to "a hospital in occupied Jerusalem." IDF Binyamin Brigade Commander Col. Gal Hirsch headed the search-and-rescue operation, in which top IDF forces and equipment were used, and seven ambulances from the Jewish communities of Binyamin transported the injured to hospital. (Arutz 7 July 9)
Knesset to Host Abu Ala
Knesset Speaker Avraham Burg has invited Abu Ala, the chairman of the Palestinian Legislative Council, to visit in the Knesset. Abu Ala, one of the architects of the Oslo agreements, has already accepted the invitation. Likud Knesset faction leader MK Ruby Rivlin said that the gesture represents the recognition of a Palestinian state. About a year ago, during a demonstration in Ramallah, Abu Ala trampled upon an Israeli flag, on camera. Likud Chairman Ariel Sharon said that though Prime Minister Barak spoke yesterday about Israel's commitment to carrying out the Wye Agreement, "we did not hear one word [at the press conference following the meeting with Arafat] about the Palestinians fulfilling their obligations!" Barak's diplomatic advisor Tzvi Shtauber, in a possible attempt to compensate, said today that the new government will insist that the Palestinians fulfill their own Wye commitments simultaneously with the Israeli withdrawals. Sharon further said, "Arafat talked about a 'peace of the courageous.' What this means, really, is Israeli willingness to give in." (Arutz 7 July 12)
First Signs of a Freeze
Minister of Industry and Trade Ran Cohen (Meretz) has instructed the Investment Center not to approve any additional new factories in Judea and Samaria "until the government determines its new order of priorities." Cohen, speaking at a convention of industrialists Monday, called upon his listeners not to invest a single agorah in factories in Yesha, as "they don't supply work for the unemployed of the development towns." Finance Minister Avraham Shochat said Monday that such decisions are not in Minister Cohen's purview, but must be made only by the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister. The Movement for Quality in Government suggests that Cohen first learn his job before starting to 'dry out' Yesha. The Yesha Council announced, "It's ridiculous that the first step of the new 'government for all' is to freeze investments in Yesha." (Arutz 7 July 12)
New Roads to Ease South-Hevron, North-Binyamin Travel
Although by-pass road construction in Yesha is being held up in several places because of the American delay in remitting Wye Agreement-promised funds, at least two sections are proceeding as planned: near Tapuach, and in Mt. Hevron. The first section will connect the city of Ariel with the Yesha towns of Shilo, Ma'aleh Levonah, Eli, Shvut Rachel, and Rechelim, in northern Binyamin. Further south along the same Route 60, the Department of Public Works has begun paving a road around the Arab village of Dahariya, which will connect the communities of Otniel and Shim'ah. The new section will ease the general transportation problems between Kiryat Arba and Be'er Sheva. Arutz-7 correspondent Haggai Huberman reports that the work requires the expropriation of some privately-owned Arab properties, prompting harsh reactions by local Arabs. Mt. Hevron Regional Council Head Tzviki Bar-Chai said that no prior Palestinian objections were voiced during the entire course of the deliberations leading up to the work. (Arutz 7 July 12)
Cabinet Convenes for First Session
The Barak government convened Sunday morning for its first official cabinet session. In the course of the meeting, Prime Minister Barak briefed his ministers on the national security situation as well as Friday's meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. The government unanimously approved Ehud Barak's proposal to enlarge the cabinet from 18 to 24 ministers, as well as the appointments of Yitzhak Herzog as Cabinet Secretary and Yossi Kucik as Director-General of the Prime Minister's Office. Justice Minister Yossi Beilin presented his reasons for opposing the legislation, but did not later vote against it. Barak stated that the move is "unavoidable," given the multitude of factions within the coalition. (Arutz 7 July 11)
Betar Housing Tenders
The Ministry of Housing announced 589 housing unit tenders in the Hareidi town of Betar-Illit, south of Jerusalem. The plans for the residential construction were initiated during the previous government by then-Deputy Housing Minister Rabbi Meir Porush. Upon assuming office last week, Housing Minister Rabbi Yitzchak Levy (NRP) publicized the tenders. In response to demands by Peace Now activists to freeze the housing bids, Betar-Illit Mayor Yehuda Gerlitz stated that the town is part of the Etzion Block which is within the national consensus. (Arutz 7 July 11)
Sheetrit Opens Campaign for Likud Head
MK Meir Sheetrit has officially opened his campaign to become Likud Party Chairman. Other contestants in the internal party election, which will be held in September, will be Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert. At a press conference Wednesday, Sheetrit admitted that he is dovish in his political views, but said that social and not diplomatic issues will top the agenda in the next national elections. In response to a question by Arutz-7's Asi Talmon as to how he will lead the opposition's fight against planned withdrawals in Yesha and the Golan, Sheetrit sidestepped the Yesha issue, and took a strong stand only regarding the Golan. (Arutz 7 July 14)
Barak Returns Israel to Grapes of Wrath
Ehud Barak, in his capacity as Defense Minister, has decided to renew Israel's participation in the international tracking committee of the Grapes of Wrath understandings. Former Defense Minister Moshe Arens, presently a Likud MK, called an Israeli boycott on the sessions in one of his last moves as Defense Minister. He criticized Barak's move, calling the tracking committee a "farce." (Arutz 7 July 9)
It's All Written Down By Aaron Lerner
If Prime Minister Ehud Barak's flight to the US leaves as scheduled, a copy of this issue of The Jerusalem Post will be on his plane.
So, Mr. Barak, here's some food for thought:
1. Yasser Arafat won't be doing Israel a favor if he agrees to resume the final-status talks before the next, let alone the third, Israeli withdrawal. He's required to.
Article IV of The Wye River Memorandum states that "The two sides will immediately resume permanent status negotiations on an accelerated basis... The negotiations will be continuous and without interruption."
The "Time Line" attached to the agreement puts "Accelerated permanent status negotiations start" well before even the first Israeli withdrawal.
2. US President Clinton would like nothing more than to hold over Israel like a sword of Damocles the conference against Israeli settlements by the signatories of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
Israel isn't asking for a favor when it calls for the conference's cancellation - it is demanding that agreements be honored.
The principle that Israel and the Palestinians settle their differences on final-status issues, including the settlement issue being discussed at the conference, via mutually agreed forums is the very backbone of the entire Oslo process.
It was set in Arafat's breakthrough September 9, 1993 letter to prime minister Yitzhak Rabin ("all outstanding issues relating to permanent status will be resolved through negotiations"), and reiterated in Article XXI of the September 28, 1995 Interim Agreement witnessed by the US, Russia, Egypt, Jordan, Norway and the European Union.
Arafat and the non-American witnesses to this agreement grossly violated it by initiating or not voting against the conference.
The claim that the conference is a quid pro quo response to Israeli settlement activity is specious. Israel can't annex territory in the West Bank and Gaza during the interim period, but the agreements don't prohibit the construction of Jewish settlements any more than of Palestinian homes.
3. Israelis aren't happy with Clinton's support of the return of the 1948 refugees to within the Green Line. An IMRA-commissioned Gallup Poll of adult Israeli Jews last week found that 67.6% believe it will cause the Palestinians to adopt a harder stance in the upcoming negotiations.
The Clinton administration's laconic clarification that it is an issue to be negotiated between the parties only rubs salt into the wound.
CLINTON may not be willing to drag the refugee-comment "horse" back into the barn, but there is something he can do that in no way changes US foreign policy: He can publicly state a historic fact so often distorted by Arab propaganda - that UN Resolution 242 requires Israeli withdrawal "from territories" not from "the territories."
This is not a question of interpretation. As then-US under-secretary of state for political affairs Eugene V. Rostow wrote in the September 1970 issue of the American Journal of International Law, "It is... not legally possible to assert that the provision requires Israeli withdrawal from all the territories."
4. The oversimplified term "fighting terror" has led many to believe that as long as bombs don't blow up, Arafat has kept his part of the bargain. But Arafat's security obligations, as spelled out in the Wye Memorandum, go far beyond that.
Before the next Israeli withdrawal, Arafat was supposed to, among other things, reduce the size of his security force, collect illegal weapons and hand over his own illegal arms caches (including antitank and antiaircraft missiles) to the CIA.
He hasn't. Last week, Ahmed Sabawi, press officer for the Palestinian Authority Preventive Security and General Intelligence for the Gaza area, told me that only around 120 handguns - no rifles - have been confiscated in the last year.
Clinton's team now claims that Israel is obligated to withdraw in the same period that the Palestinians are supposed to get around to complying. If the Palestinians cheat, they argue, it should only hold up the third withdrawal.
But that's not what Arafat promised in "solemn verbal understandings made by the parties in the presence of the president of the United States."
A senior member of the Netanyahu administration recently told me he thought it was "criminally negligent" to rely on Clinton to stand behind the deal, an observation just as damning of Clinton as Netanyahu.
Yes, Clinton took Netanyahu for a patsy. But those understandings are between the Palestinian Authority, the United States of America and the State of Israel - not Netanyahu.
If, when Clinton meets Barak, he continues to ignore these understandings, it won't be Netanyahu that Clinton is taking for a dupe; it will be Barak.
Barak's message should be simple. He is a serious man who takes his own word seriously and expects the same from others. If Barak fails to stand firm in
Washington, it will be a loss for Israel and all others who seek a lasting peace.
(Jerusalem Post July 14)
There's a growing feeling among the intellectual and political elite that Zionism, the founding idea of the state, has reached its end
In his latest book, Le Voyage Imaginaire, Shimon Peres -- former prime minister of Israel and now minister of regional development in Ehud Barak's cabinet - takes Theodore Herzl, the founder of the Zionist movement, on a virtual tour of Israel. The two view the country and examine the fulfilment of the Zionist dream -- the creation of an independent Jewish homeland in Israel. But despite all that Israel has accomplished in the 51 years since its creation, Herzl, unlike Peres, chooses to leave the Jewish state and returns to his home in Europe.
This choice is typical of a growing feeling among some in Israel's intellectual and political elite that Zionism, the founding idea of the state, has reached its end. This belief, called post-Zionism, forms a movement of primarily left-wing Israeli intellectuals. They believe Zionism fulfilled its goal of bringing the majority of the Jews to an independent state, and therefore, is no longer needed. The place for the anachronism known as Jewish nationalism, in their view, belongs in history books.
In fact they believe, as Hebrew University's Professor Menachem Brinker has written, that the continued existence of a Zionist movement is on the way to becoming not only superfluous but harmful. But the charge of obsolescence is only the benign face of a much more destructive trend in Israeli intellectual life.
At the core of the post-Zionist critique lies the belief that any form of nationalism is harmful, and that this is especially true of Israeli nationalism, which is suffused with an original sin. These post-Zionists argue that Israel is immoral not only because it occupied the West Bank and Gaza in 1967, but because the state of Israel was established in 1948 to exploit and enslave the people living in Palestine, steal their land, and disinherit them.
Accordingly, Israeli withdrawal from those territories will not rid Israel of its original sin toward the Palestinians, and a solution of the Arab-Israeli conflict based on simple territorial compromises cannot make Israel moral. This is because modern Jewish nationalism did not create (as Zionist ideology claims) a beneficent and well-meaning progressive national movement, but rather a colonialist, racist, and evil one.
Post-Zionism expresses itself in two ways in Israeli society. The first is in the fields of historic and sociological research, where post-Zionist writers attempt to significantly undermine, if not thoroughly demolish, what they view as the pro-Israel propagandist interpretation of the past of the old Israeli academics.
Along these lines historian Benny Morris has written that Israel forcibly expelled Palestinians from their homes during the 1948 war. Countering the official Israeli version -- according to which the Arabs left Palestine out of their own will or were called to do so by the leaders of the neighbouring Arab states in preparation for the all-Arab invasion of the country -- Morris claims that during the war Israel intentionally and violently encouraged them to leave. In a similar vein, sociologist Uri Ram has questioned the moral validity of the Zionist enterprise, finding it a form of colonialism, and has concluded that Jews have no more of a claim to Palestine than do the British to India. Israeli journalist Boaz Evron has written that Zionism fabricated a false connection between the Jews and the land. Even the greatest Jewish disaster in modern times, the Holocaust, has not escaped post-Zionist interpretation. Tom Segev, a historian, has written that the Zionist movement viewed the destruction of European Jewry as an historic opportunity to further Zionist goals and therefore intentionally abstained from saving the dying Jewish masses. In the state of Israel today, continues Segev, the cynical misuse of the Holocaust continues, because it is being
viewed as a unique experience symbolizing Jewish particularism, rather than as a multicultural event carrying general humanistic lessons.
The second way in which post-Zionist currents are expressed in Israel is in the realm of popular culture. Post-Zionism remains largely confined to Israel's political and intellectual elite. But this minority dominates the voices, images, and power that influence daily lives and shape Israel's future generation. Hundreds of Israel's leading writers, intellectuals, academics, authors, and journalists, joined by photographers, actors, and painters, have been preaching that Israel's cause is not just. This outlook has spread from leading intellectual, cultural, and social institutions to media and government.
For example, in celebration of Israel's 50th anniversary jubilee, Israel state television characterized the Jewish state's creation not as miraculous but as tragic, not with joy but with sadness. It even repeated some post-Zionist claims that Israel intentionally devastated and expelled the Palestinians in 1948.
The post-Zionist outlook has worked its way into the political establishment and school curricula. Micha Goldman, while serving as deputy minister of education in the Rabin government, proposed replacing Israel's national anthem and flag to reflect Palestinian nationalism. A recently published Israeli high-school history textbook includes a chapter describing Zionism as a form of colonialism without legitimate claims to Israel. A former minister of education, Shulamit Aloni, called for a stop to all Israeli students
visits to Nazi concentration camps, because such trips make them too nationalist.
Even the military elite has absorbed some post-Zionist ideas. Shlomo Gazit, Israel's former director of military intelligence, compared the skullcaps worn by some religious Israeli soldiers to the swastikas worn by Nazi soldiers: "The only army I know of where members of a political party were allowed to wear an identifiable, external symbol was in the Nazi army," he said.
Since Israeli nationalism is based on the notion that Judaism is both a religion and a national identity, post-Zionists focused some of their most recent attacks on the Jewish character of the state. In fact, post-Judaism is the flip side of the post-Zionism. The one is a political and ideological assault on Jewish nationalism; the other is a cultural strike against the Jewish religion. "Post-Judaism" marks an Israeli elite that, repulsed by its own identity and history, aspires to replace the national-Zionist Jew with an assimilated, universal man similar to the "enlightened" European intellectual. It regards Jewish particularism as unfashionable, dark, and narrow-minded.
This hostility toward the Jewish religion has descended into secular elites believing they are victims of a conspiratorial ideology that defines religious-nationalism. In a recent book, Messiah's Donkey, Seffi Rachlevsky, argues that religious-nationalists in Israel view the secular majority as "donkeys" who build the state until the religious take power in preparation for the Messiah coming. His analysis is largely erroneous, but he uses it to maintain that the religious are collectively guilty for assassinating Yitzhak Rabin and for scheming to take over Israel and turn it into a dark theocracy.
How is it that Israeli Jews, only 50 years after establishing a state for which they yearned for 2,000 years in the Diaspora, are so eager to dismantle it and to terminate the Jewish enterprise as a whole? And why is it that so many American Jews, whose support for Israeli nationalism has been so solid since the Second World War, are joining the fashion?
One reason for the spread of post-Zionism in recent years is that it is a local Israeli variant to the rise of post-nationalist and anti-religious intellectual currents in the West. American intellectuals, including Martha Nussbaum and Amy Gutmann, called for the end of patriotism and the nation-state and their replacement either by a worldwide community of human beings (Nussbaum) or by a global commitment to the shared values of the just and the good (Gutmann). To give our first allegiance to the idea of cosmopolitanism, they both insist, is the only way to do what is morally good, while to love one's country above all others is to bring a curse upon it. Anything in the West that establishes and encourages a defined, particular community -- such as religion or nation -- is evil. And Jewish intellectuals, who are particularly vulnerable to ideas that diffuse them with the larger world such as Communism, pacifism, or aggressive humanism see these ideas as their salvation. Post-nationalist American writers, like their Israeli counterparts, equate morality with universalism, or the abolishment of the nation-state and religion.
Although not openly speaking of cosmopolitanism nor seeking to explore what would come after Zionism ceases to exist, the post-Zionists, like their American peers, view the ultimate Israeli repentance as relating to a condition of statelessness. Indeed, they seek an apolitical solution to the political problem of the Palestinians, a solution that can only come into being after there is no longer an Israeli polity.
These arguments look back to an earlier time, in the 1930s and 1940s, when a few Jews considered marginal then, such as Alfred M. Lilienthal, insisted that the essence of Judaism is its moral purity derived from the unsoiled state of its powerlessness and disenfranchisement. Tying Judaism to the real world with its compromising demands of power would destroy it, and the creation of Israel would destroy Judaism. Lilienthal's arguments were dismissed at the time by those who had just experienced the most awful effect of powerlessness -- the Holocaust. Today, Lilienthal's views seem to be gripping Israeli intellectuals.
Cast in such stark terms, however, the post-Zionists' argument lacks popular approval. Thus, on the popular level, post-Zionists make their challenge to Israeli nationalism indirectly, trying to tap into the language of the U.S. civil rights campaign in the name of achieving greater democracy, namely, protecting Palestinians' rights. But it is a fake comparison.
Israeli democracy is not based on concepts of race or ethnicity, and those Palestinians who are citizens of Israel are formally equal to Israelis in their right to vote and be elected. Indeed, despite the imperfections of the Israeli system, its Arab citizens enjoy the greatest degree of democracy available to Arabs in the Middle East.
More centrally, by defining morality solely on the basis of Palestinian national group-rights, instead of on questions of individual citizens rights, the post-Zionists ignore the oppression of Palestinians by Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Authority and sacrifice their democratic rights for the sake of their ultimate liberation from Israel's rule following the collapse of Zionism. Post-Zionist ideology is dangerous not only because it leads to oppression, but mostly because, as Israeli author Aaron Megged has noted, it represents a latent biological urge to self-destruct. For Israel, giving up on Zionism means giving up the nation's identity.
Without Zionism, there is little that ties the Israeli secular majority to Israel, or that justifies the continued sacrifices Israelis make for its defence. Without it, also, there is little that ties world Jewry to Judaism in an age of growing Jewish assimilation. In this sense, post-Zionist ideology is the most dangerous enemy Israel ever had to face.
To paraphrase professor James Kurth's statement on the West, one could say that the real clash of civilizations in the Middle East today is not between Jewish and Islamic civilizations, because it is not the strength of Islam which represents the most serious threat to Israel. Rather, it is between the Zionists and post-Zionists, within Israel itself.
The inner confidence of Israel, its belief in the right of its cause, will determine how well it will be able to withstand the attacks of its enemies. If the rising tide of self-doubt fails to recede, Israel will not be able to resist the dangers to its very existence.
Meyrav Wurmser is the executive director of the Middle East Media Research Institute. (National Post July 10)
My Little Angel
I had gone to Eilat for a quick 24 hour holiday and wanted one more swim in the pool before dashing for my flight back to Jerusalem. After my swim, I scooped up my clothes and dashed to shower and dress. That was when I could not find my wristwatch. I searched the room and then concluded I must have dropped it at the pool.
I raced back and stood looking at the chaise I had left my towel on. It was empty. But a glimmer of light let me see the watch on the ground. As I stooped to pick it up, an Israeli girl, about nine years old, began berating me in Hebrew. I told her, "Only English". And instantly she began scolding me in English.
"Where have you been? I have been waiting here so long! I was so afraid that someone would steal your watch."
I looked at her in amazement. I must have been gone for at least 20 minutes and in the over 100 degree heat, that was a long time to stand guard. I told her that I was very grateful and opened my purse to take out some shekels to give her as a reward. But when I looked up from my purse, she was gone.
I searched the pool and the chairs on the deck, but she was nowhere to be seen. It was an eery feeling to have her disappear so quickly. I would have so liked to tell her mother.
Dancing on the Mt. of Olives
On Yom Yerushalyim, ten thousand teenagers gathered late at night and danced till dawn. Then they walked the four tenths of a mile down the road that the Israeli paratroopers took in 1967 when they liberated Jerusalem. There was a rock band and fireworks during the night. And a mehitza separating the dancing boys from the dancing girls.
To my surprise and disappointment, all of the whirling, singing and rocking and rolling kids were religious. Girls in long skirts and boys with kippot.
Where were the secular youth?
The soldiers who liberated Jerusalem and who reverently touched the stones of the Western Wall were not religious. They were Israelis and Jews. They saw this as an act of national and historic justice: the Jews had come back to Jerusalem.
The Israeli media's coverage of youthful celebrations of Jerusalem Day ignored this annual celebration and march of 10,000 in its coverage. Instead, there were pictures and stories about 40 Peace Now demonstrators who protested that Israel celebrated the unification of the city.
When you walk around the so-called Muslim quarter in the Old City, you occasionally see large Jewish stars drawn on doorways. These identify the homes of Ataret Cohanim. I asked why they put the magen davids on their doors. Were they not worried about identifying their homes to Arabs? The Jewish occupant smiled at me and said "They know who we are and where we live. We put the Jewish stars on our doors so that Jews in distress will know where they can find help and safety."
Israelis asked me with some wonderment why an American had taken Israeli citizenship and was making aliyah. Israel had always been a central concern of my life. But I wanted to be in Israel now, not just talk and worry about Israel.
I was tired of arguing with American Jews who had no stake in the answers. But more importantly, I believe that as exciting as the last fifty years has been for the Jewish people, the next fifty years will be even more exciting because we are going to figure out what it means to be a Jew in the modern world. And that discovery will only happen in Israel. I want to be part of the voyage.
All my life I have been an activist in causes - women's issues, consumerism, racial justice. America is not perfect, but the good fight is now in Israel.
Carol Greenwald is editor of The Israel Action Alert.